If you’re finding it difficult to sleep, or wake up numerous times throughout the night, or even wake up early and can’t get back to sleep again, then please take a moment to check out the tips and strategies to follow which will help to cure insomnia without medication.
The vast majority of cases of insomnia are actually due to lifestyle factors under your control, as opposed to physical illnesses and ailments.
In fact, some of the biggest causes of insomnia include stress and anxiety, smoking and drinking too much, plus watching TV or playing on our phones before we go to bed.
Believe it or not, the things I’ve mentioned here have an uncanny way of almost “tricking” the body and mind into wanting to stay alert and active rather than going to sleep.
Therefore, today I want to discuss what you should (or should not) be doing to cure insomnia without medication.
Why Should I Treat Insomnia Without Medication?
I would hazard a guess that Doctors and pharmacists all over the world see literally thousands of patients with insomnia, with most of them either requesting or asking advice about sleeping pills or other forms of medication.
However, most people in the medical profession will not recommend any form of sleep medication and typically look at this as a last resort.
The reasons for not advocating sleeping pills include:
- They can be addictive.
- Sleeping pills don’t actually promote restful sleep.
- They are not dealing with the root cause of the problem.
I think anyone who has used sleeping pills (if they’re being completely honest) will attest to the above.
Firstly, if you find that you are sleeping better (or in most cases you believe you are sleeping better) then it’s going to become extremely difficult to wean yourself off sleeping pills.
Eventually, your mind will tell you that there’s no way you can sleep without popping a pill and a habit becomes an addiction.
Secondly, are sleeping pills actually providing you with quality sleep?
“Quality” being the operative word here.
I know from personal experience, the one and only occasion (over a period of a couple of weeks) I tried medication to help me sleep, it caused me all sorts of issues and definitely didn’t help me to sleep any better.
I really did feel as though I’d been drugged, and as I woke up at more-or-less the same time each day, I believe I often woke up in the middle of a sleep cycle. This is generally why you sometimes wake up feeling tired and groggy, even though you think you’ve had the optimum number of hours of sleep.
I would then feel awful for most of the day and often I felt as though the sleeping pills would “kick in” sometime in the afternoon when I was supposed to be working.
I’m not entirely sure, but I believe (as someone who tries to avoid medication at all costs) they caused some type of chemical imbalance in my brain and body.
Finally, by taking sleeping pills you’re really only looking at a short-term fix and not focusing on what is actually causing your insomnia.
So, if sleeping pills aren’t the answer I guess it time to introduce you to my tips to cure insomnia without medication.
Check Out This Video & You’ll Soon See Why I’m Not A Fan Of Using Medication For Insomnia
What Habits Should You Focus on During The Day?
Wake Up & Go To Sleep At The Same Time Every Day
This should include weekends and holidays as well.
I typically go to bed at 10pm every night and wake up at 6am in the morning.
Don’t get me wrong, every now and then I’ll have a later night and therefore enjoy a longer lie-in in the morning.
However, this is what I am able to do now – when I was initially suffering really badly with insomnia I had to make these changes to my sleeping habits and stick to them for a number of months, irrespective of what was going on in my personal and social life.
If you’ve been suffering with insomnia as long as I have (over 10 years) then initially you’re going to have to make some sacrifices.
For me, this often meant that a night out with friends or family had to be cut short so I could get home and some time to relax before heading off to bed.
In fact, for the first few months I even declined a number of invitations because I knew it would impact on my new sleeping routine.
Now this may sound a little obsessive, but in all honesty I wasn’t functioning particularly well during the day anyway, so I had to do something a little drastic.
I still have days now when I don’t want to get out of bed at 6am (don’t we all), but this is perfectly natural.
As I’ve mentioned, I’m also a little more flexible nowadays, but this is purely because I no longer suffer with insomnia in the same way I used to. Therefore, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with changing my sleeping routines every once in a while.
However, I should mention that I still stick rigidly to my 10-6 bedtime schedule 95% of the time.
The way I look at it is that it’s much the same as people who go on diets.
They control their intake of calories for a month or so, lose their desired weight, and then go back to their former eating habits, and wonder why they’ve piled the pounds back on.
Doh! If you’re going to make a lifestyle change then it has to be a permanent one, with only with the occasional “cheat”. We are creatures of habit, so making sweeping changes on a regular basis isn’t going to do us much good.
Exercise During The Day
Well this led on nicely from talk of diets, didn’t it?
Nevertheless, exercising is an integral part of not only sleeping well, but also in leading a healthy lifestyle. And trust me when I say, the healthier you are (physically and mentally) the better you’re going to sleep.
Exercise has a number of benefits when it comes to the quality of our sleep.
I tend to exercise in the morning, which I find gives me a great boost for the day. I feel alert, energetic, and raring to go at whatever tasks lie ahead of me.
I tend to notice that my body starts to feel tired in the evenings from my earlier exertions, and this is ideal as bedtime fast approaches.
My own exercise regime is quite intense and not something I’d suggest to the majority of people, but this comes from years of working out, plus I also view exercise as one of my passions.
However, just being physically active for 30 minutes a day, 4 or 5 days a week will have some fantastic benefits for your health, and indeed the quality of your sleep.
If you’re new to exercise you can start out by finding time to walk for at least 30 minutes on a daily basis.
I would also suggest that you shouldn’t exercise too close to your bedtime, as this can have an adverse effect on sleep.
You may believe it will tire you out just as you’re going to bed, but exercise (especially vigorous and intense exercise) will release certain “happiness hormones”, which are likely to keep you awake.
Your Bedroom Should Be Just For Sleeping
This is something that I’ve been guilty of throughout the years – I would typically use my bedroom for working, watching TV (which I’ll focus more on in a moment), and basically any number of things that didn’t involve sleeping.
The mind is a wonderful thing, but it also has a way of picking up bad habits, which can subconsciously have an effect on your entire day (including sleeping at night).
It’s best that you associate the bedroom with sleeping (and being intimate with your partner) and nothing more.
Once you view the bedroom solely as a place to sleep you will generally find that the quality of your sleep will improve drastically.
I’m now only ever in my bedroom in the morning as I awake and then return in the evening when it’s time to sleep.
Okay, I have the added advantage of other upstairs rooms at my disposal where I can get dressed, work, watch TV, etc. but hopefully you get my meaning.
What Bedtime Habits Should You Focus On?
I’ve mentioned above that I used to watch TV in the bedroom. This is a big NO-NO.
You should try not to watch TV or play (or work) on your phone, laptop, or tablet in the bedroom.
In fact, you should stop all “electronic activity” well before you go to bed. I would suggest anywhere from an hour or two beforehand, but if this isn’t possible then at least stop using your electronic equipment 30 minutes before you go to sleep.
The blue light emitted from these devices reduces melatonin production, which can best be described as the hormone which makes us feel sleepy.
Avoid Large Meals Close to Bedtime
Eating big meals close to bedtime can cause havoc when it comes to getting a decent night’s sleep.
It takes a while for the body to digest a meal anyway, but the larger a meal the more time you may require.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has gone to bed feeling extremely stuffed, tossing and turning as I’m not able to find a comfortable position, and of course being unable to sleep until “my stomach goes down”.
I typically eat my evening meal nowadays at 6.30pm, 7pm at the absolute latest, in order to fit in with my 10pm bedtime.
A quick tip you may want to try if you do happen to eat a large meal close to bedtime and you feel really full (I’m not a saint and I will occasionally have a late-evening meal in a restaurant) is to sleep on your left side.
Your stomach naturally hangs to the left and therefore this will aid digestion. Sleeping on your back may feel particularly uncomfortable after a heavy meal, sleeping on your right-side will mean that the stomach and digestive system are fighting against gravity, and I’m sure I don’t need to mention why sleeping on your stomach isn’t a great idea.
Avoid Smoking, Alcohol and Caffeinated Drinks
Once again, I’m no saint, and I partake in all 3 “vices”, but they are best avoided in the evening, where possible.
All 3 of these will stimulate you, thus making it much harder to fall asleep.
Both nicotine and caffeine are stimulants which will make the mind feel more alert. In fact, it is recommended that if you are a regular coffee drinker that your last cup should be anywhere between 6-8 hours before you go to sleep.
Alcohol is often viewed by many insomniacs as a way to aid sleep, but it’s anything but.
I myself have had many a night out on the town, enjoyed perhaps a drink or two too many, and literally crashed straight out the second my head hits the pillow.
However, the quality of sleep you get after imbibing is extremely poor.
Waking up the next morning with the dreaded hangover is typically a mixture of dehydration (alcohol is diuretic) and the lack of quality sleep.
As I’ve mentioned a number of times, there is nothing wrong with having the occasional blowout every now and then (sleeping times, alcohol, heavy meals, etc.) but if you’re currently suffering from insomnia and are desperate for a decent night’s sleep then you’re going to have to abstain until you have control over your sleeping habits.
In some cases we could be talking weeks or months. However, if you’re anything like me and have had insomnia for years, you can’t expect an overnight solution.
RELATED POST ====> How Does Alcohol Affect Sleep?
Other Prescription Medication
It’s worth pointing out that certain prescription medicines may be having an impact on the quality of your sleep.
In fact, I watched both my late parents, who battled diabetes and heart disease for a number of years, go through this exact situation.
In truth, a lot of their sleeping issues possibly came down to the afflictions they were suffering, but I’m guessing a cocktail of pills taken on a daily basis wasn’t doing either of them any favors when it came to going to sleep.
However, for many people, they find that the symptoms of insomnia suddenly appear after being prescribed something new. If this is the case then please speak to your Doctor and see if there any alternatives they can offer.
It is also a good idea if you’ve suffered with insomnia for longer and you take prescribed medication to speak to your Doctor anyway to see if there is potentially any connection.
Stress and Anxiety
I would hazard a guess that the biggest reason for insomnia is stress and anxiety.
I know I had a number of bad “daytime and bedtime” habits, many of which I touched on above, but I think stress played a huge role in my sleepless nights.
I have spoken previously about stress-induced insomnia and I know that I found it almost impossible to switch my mind off as I went to bed.
In fact, I would play certain scenarios over-and-over in my mind and simply work myself up until it was impossible to get any shut-eye.
Dealing with stress and anxiety isn’t something you can do instantly, and this is especially true if this has been a long-standing issue for you.
However, for me it was a case of using certain calming techniques that helped me to deal with my mind.
RELATED ====> How To Sleep When Stressed and Anxious
I could talk about practices such as meditation, yoga, journaling, etc. all of which I do on a daily basis, but I’d like to provide you with something you can use here-and-now, in the moment.
As I’ve said, you can’t expect to completely cure yourself of stress and anxiety overnight, but I have found that the way we breathe and actually focusing on your breathing can be great help in calming yourself down.
I think this is because during stressful situations, or even if our mind is just in a spiral of negative thoughts, our heart rate and breathing tends to speed up.
So, concentrating on your breath for a few moments can have a wonderfully calming effect.
Here’s a breathing exercise for stress provided by the UK’s National Health Service Website.
I have also previously written about the 4 7 8 breathing exercise for sleep, which is more focused towards helping you sleep than stress-management.
Your Bedroom Environment
I’ve spoken about the bedroom just being for sleep, but the actual environment you choose to sleep in will also have a massive impact on the quality of your sleep.
Firstly, the temperature of the bedroom is extremely important. The ideal “sleeping temperature” is between 15C (59F) and 20C (68F).
Next, you should focus on light (or lack of). You should have thick curtains/drapes or blinds which block out any street lights in the evening and obviously the morning sun. Failing that, an eye mask is the next best thing to ensure that light is not having an impact on your sleep quality.
Finally, the type of bedding you have should be appropriate for the time of the year. I typically have a duvet on my bed all year round, but I have a thicker one for the winter months and often stick to a simple bed sheet or no covering at all during the summer.
So I hope you can see that if you’re looking to cure insomnia without medication then it’s extremely important to concentrate on the various lifestyle factors covered in this article.
I’ve heard only too often of people turning to sleeping pills and other forms of medication to help them to sleep, but by doing this you’re really not dealing with the problem. You are literally sweeping your issues under the covers to deal with another day.
Do you really want to be popping a pill every single day for the rest of your life?
And please don’t get me started on what this is doing to your body. This is probably the scope of another article, but eventually ALL medications will have an adverse effect on the body’s internal organs.
And this is why this website is centered around natural cures for sleep disorders.
I know from previous interactions with my readers that many of you often share your personal stories of sleep, and the actions you have taken to help you to sleep better.
So please, any further tips or advice, or even if you simply want to ask a question, fire away in the comments section below.